Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Flopping Orca? You be the judge...

Okay, I'm off for my first visit to the pool since a week before Ironman.

As in August.

Yes, August
. Late August, but August nonetheless.*

I'm a wee bit scared of the adventure. And when I say a "wee bit," I really mean "holy sh&t, where is the locker room again?"

Case in point: last night I had to relearn my lock combination. It was embarrassing, even though I was the only one there.

Tonight, I'll be swimming (flopping around) like a fish (in a puddle) with my first coached swim lesson evah. I get to try new things like kicking without a kickboard and trying not to drown. And, yes, I am a loooooser. Other new things include rotate-to-your-side pinkie-first-backstroke.

Hey, it's only been -- like -- 20 some odd years since I swam backstroke...

how hard could it possibly be?

Yup. That's what I thought.

Needless to say, it will also be embarrassing. I'm sure I won't be the only one there this time.

Here's to new beginnings and flopping orcas. Let's hope my costume doesn't get caught in the drain.

* By the way, words like nonetheless? Love them. Anytime you get to smush three or more words together with the same effect...but efficient...I say go for it. Albeit. Notwithstanding. Yougetit.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

What would YOU say?

First, thanks for all of the lovely, lovely well wishing from everyone!! Mighty M and I are very happy and still gliding around on air. He's managing to get away with murder at home ("honey, can you get me a glass of water?", "babe, thanks for doing those dishes"...), but I'm so happy I just don't care.

Cause I'm getting mawweed.


Okay, back to my original post. Geesh.


So, as y'all know, I've recently gotten myself hooked up with the smallest, baddest coach out there. And you'd imagine she'd have some questions for me to get the coaching ball started. And LET ME TELL YOU...filling out her Athlete Questionnaire was an eye opening experience for me.

It was the first time -- evah -- I had put my goals, strengths, weaknesses, conflicts, hopes, and fears all down in one place. One ten-page long place.

Cathartic. Informative. Exciting.

And I thought to myself, "you know...self...everyone should do this before their next season!" So, I'm going to share my honest to goodness answers -- in no way shape or form edited for audience -- to some of her questions.

You want all of the questions? You hire the Elf.

But in the mean time, here's an example of what she would need to know (and likewise what everyone racing out there should know) about you...

Today's Question: Using SWOT, what are your mental strengths and weaknesses?

My Answer:


· I love this sport. No, really, I love this sport. It is my daily key to stay healthy and I never forget that.

· I’m motivated for myself. My first year of tri was about learning about the sport. My second year was about raising money for others and trying new (long) distances. This year? It’s about me wanting to race. I want it for me and, somehow, that makes it less complicated.

· Knowing thy limits. I’m sensitive to my limits, usually before I reach them and can sometimes avoid a meltdown of epic proportions.

· I know that I can talk myself in and out of things very well, and that’s half the battle. I know when I’m justifying bad decisions, so I know what lines of logic to stay away from.


· I’ve always created plans that are too ambitious, so I rarely hit 100%. I think this is because I’ve never really understood what each session is attempting to do, so skipping was easier than it should have been.

· When I feel overwhelmed, the first thing that suffers is training. Queue anxiety overload and I start skipping sessions. I have to always be on the lookout for balance in life and training.

· Discipline. This is my work in progress. Two years ago, I never would have believed I could maintain the training schedule I did this year. And I’m sure that I will develop more discipline this coming year, but it’s something I struggle with – matching my goals with my daily decisions.

· I try to eat the proverbial elephant all at once. So, I’m always checking myself to focus on short term goals first, allowing long term goals to come later.


· Michael is intimately involved in this whole process and has raced (Cat-3 cycling) in the past, so he understands the demands of training.

· Michael is intimately involved with me and he knows when I’m blowing off training and being lazy. And, when he thinks it’s important, he’ll call me out on it.

· My job, including my boss, is supportive of a work/life balance. I have available vacation for recovery days following big races and can adjust my work hours in advance for things like open water swims in neighboring states.

· My blog tends to be a great way for me to vent about training, as well as get support from other triathletes. It’s become an invaluable support system for me.


· My job is flexible, but it’s full time and stressful.

· I have only a limited amount of spare cash to throw at my training/gear/registrations, so I try to be really careful picking what to invest in. Sometimes it means that I do a $20 organized ride, with a run afterwards, instead of a smaller triathlon that may run over $50. Sigh.


So, what would YOU say?

Monday, October 29, 2007

Ever After...

He's my best friend. My soul mate. My safe place to land.

So when he asked, I answered.

Without hesitation, said yes.

I can imagine my life no other way.

He is my happily ever after.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Faaaahbulous Friday!

Someone thinks I'm faaaahbulous. And, since it's Friday and I am wearing a fancy new outfit and just picked up A FANCY NEW BIKE (!!!), I'm going to concur.

I am.

And so are these ladies...

Dying Water Buffalo, because honesty and vulnerability in writing is a rare gift, and she certainly has it.

Meggan Ann, because she's going to rock the Philly Marathon with grit and determination.

The Big Bad KBB, because she gets poop jokes, can dress fancy like a girl, and is not afraid to tell it like it is.

Siren, because she hearts triathlon more than most bloggers out there. Plus, she just tethered her dog to a baby carriage so she can run after her little nugget arrives. That, my friends, is dedication!

Laurie, because she's the most AMAZING cheering squad any triathlete could hope to have, hands down.

IronMin, because she stepped up for Wisconsin and is going to lay it all out there, which (of course) reminds me so much of my last winter. Cheer her on, guys!

(okay, i'm still in the "I" section of my reader...this may be a long one!!)

Jenny, because she's nurturing and adventurous and honest and a simply lovely person.

Nytro, because...well, duh. Read her blog.

Mishele, because seeing her cheering on my run up the Helix after the swim in Wisconsin was so darned fun!

Momo, because she never fails to leave comments that are just so right on. And her feet pictures.

Turtle, because she has worked so hard for her IMFL goal and I'm so darned excited for her!

Megan, because she's that cool and is falling in love with day old cheese. Who wouldn't love that?

Tea, because she just simply rocks. Rock. Star.

Stronger, because she offers up her heart and soul for everyone and asks nothing in return.

TriSaraTops, because she's a baby-making iron machine.

And, of course,

Bold, because what other man could handle such a bevy of faaaahbulous babes??

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Welcome to The Next Step

When I started "working out" a few years back, it was when I was in HORRENDOUS shape and completely clueless about my body and how to help it. It was ridiculously hard to finish a mile and I remember -- vividly -- the day that I managed to run the entire route around our local university (exactly one mile). I called Mighty M on the phone. We had just met. Online, no less. And I gushed about my one mile victory.

He got it, and that's why I let him stick around since then. (wink)

And, if you've been reading about my little journey this past year, you know that I kept at the running thing until I could do longer runs. And then I started to swim, even though I greatly resembled an orca in distress. And then there was the bike. I -- again, vividly -- remember the first ride I took. It was 7 miles around my Dad's neighborhood and ended in a gut wrenching hill. I stopped twice on the way up and thought I was going to pass out.

It's been quite a road.

I've been caught saying that my first year of triathlon was about learning about the sport (although that never ends, right?) and my second year was about trying different distances and raising important money. And, you already know my intentions for this year. But what you don't know is how I'm going to get there.


I've teamed up with one of the most impressive racers AND bloggers I know. Okay, okay, I don't know a lot of racers, but her top ten age group finish in Kona...(yes, I said K-O-N-A)...speaks volumes. And I *do* know a lot of bloggers and she has my seal of approval for being one of the best dang writers out there.

And she loves coffee as much as I do. Possibly more. Which scares me a little.

And for some unknown reason [because I'm hot stuff] she's been willing to coach me.

Wittle Owd Me.

No kidding.

Starting November 1st, I'm back in training kids. In fact, it's probably more accurate to say that starting November 1st I'm finally in training. Last year I patched things together and borrowed from books and practically used a magic ball to figure out my training. Did it get me somewhere? Sure.

But I've got some plans for next year, folks. Some big plans. As in 3 half iron plans. Booyah.

I want to be the biggest baddest Athena I know. I want to be strong and focused and perform at this fantastic sport. I want to stop expending energy in THINKING about how to construct a plan, and spend more time DOING.

And the Elf will get me there.

Yup, you heard me. My coach is The Elf.

Bitchin' ... I. Know.

And, yes, it will likely hurt. I mean, seriously...have you read any of her stuff? This chick is a mah-chine! I've already talked to a friend of mine (another one of her budding triathletes) and she said the same thing. Kick. My. Arse.

But it's a good pain, right? Riiiiight... .

So, I'm stocking up on my Clif Bloks and Asics socks, I'm picking up my new bike from the shop, brushing off my dusty Garmin, and searching for my gym ID. It's going to a long and careful ride from here to my first half ( early MAY?? how cool is that!) and I'm stupid excited to see what it's like with an honest to goodness superstar in my corner.

I finally have the tools, peeps. Now let's see what I can do with them...

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Ironman Wisconsin -- Before the Dawn

I had imagined that dawn would be like this. Almost exactly like this. But, of course, no matter how vivid your imagination is, it forever pales in comparison to the real thing.

And this was the real thing.

And it was stunning.

I could hardly take my eyes off of the water – with sparkles of early sunshine bouncing off of its surface. It seemed to dance. I felt like dancing. My cheeks hurt from the broad grin adhered to my face. And as hard as I tried, I could barely soak up all of the activity around me. I felt – oddly – at peace. And happy. Deeply happy.

I had worked so very hard for this moment. So many early morning swim sessions and dragging myself out on the bike rather than enjoying leisurely mornings dawdling over cooling coffee. And I had imagined what it would feel like to don my wetsuit and look out over the water in anticipation of my first Ironman. My imagination had come close.

* * * *

Have you ever felt as if your heart is tethered to a fleet of birds, ready to launch right out of your chest? Where your skin feels everything there is – the heat, the air, brushing strangers, the tug of neoprene? When your smile creeps up on you unannounced and takes up permanent residence on your face?

That was me on race day, corralled with the other Ironman athletes getting ready for the water. Getting ready for the start of our day long journey, getting ready to touch a dream.

The day before had been little of what I had expected, by comparison to this morning. Mighty M had made it to Wisconsin the evening before and quietly tucked in bed next to me. I miss him when he’s not by my side, and it was good to have him there. I rolled out of bed early on Saturday for the Gatorade swim. Grabbed my Ironman backpack, stuffed with my wetsuit and goggles, and headed for the car.

I was nervous and apprehensive for the day. I had no idea what to expect, although I knew there was much to do. The swim this morning was so very important. Check in on Friday has scared the willies out of me. The registration line, on the ground floor of the conference center, snakes across the long window facing the water. And standing there, quietly taking stock of the course and waiting for my weigh in, I had begun to panic about my swimming skills. The bobbing buoys seemed to extend far into the distance, much more so than for my half iron swim back in West Virginia. How could that be possible? Could I even make it through the swim? I knew that I needed to simply get in the water and swim…it was the only solution.

So, I rolled my way over to the Gatorade swim on Saturday with coffee gripped in my left hand and my bursting bag in the right. It was like the first day of school – I was equally excited and apprehensive. Everyone was so buff and athletic looking, joking personally with each other and in various states of undress. I only hoped I could manage to get into my wetsuit without falling over in a mud puddle or garnering any questionable glances. I found a picnic table off to the side and started the process.

But I did get into the suit, thankfully without any scarring emotional embarrassments. And, looking around for a helping hand to zip me up, I found Mishele and Greyhound on the edge of the water. Seeing familiar faces and gabbing about triathlons, law and life was exactly what I needed to funnel my nervous energy into true, honest excitement. What a gift it was to feel, for that moment, less alone and scared.

Zipped and ready, I waded down the steep and slippery launch and into the water. And it was right. You know those moments where things click into place and you feel – for that brief second – that all elements were where they should be and things were just…right? That would not be the last time I felt this way on my Ironman weekend, but it was the first. A welcomed first.

I stroked my way out a few buoys and felt natural in the water. My perspective altered out there, and I was able to see the far markers as achievable. Doable. Right. I knew coming out of the water from the practice swim that I was ready to start my first Ironman. And I was finally feeling truly excited. I could barely wait to share this with Mighty M, so I headed back to the hotel full of excitement and energy.

* * * *

My Saturday held so much more for me that I had originally planned on and, looking back, I would have done much of it differently. I am a caretaker and a planner, and a stubborn one at that. If things need to be handled or managed, I’m your gal. And, in my naivete, I had not protected myself from…myself. When all the activities of the day began to turn and swirl into a whirlwind of activity, I didn’t let go. I remained the person in charge and greatly to my detriment. I should have let go. I know that now.

Instead, I fell victim to the tumult. There were phone calls, meeting here or there, balancing our one car – all of the elements of preparing for a weekend race in a far flung location, which Wisconsin was for my entire cheering squad. My bag drop off and bike check in were squeezed between the swim and a brunch with my best friend from college, who had traveled in from the Twin Cities to spend rare time together catching up. We noshed at a local German restaurant on sandwiches and walked along the shore together with her children playing at the edge of the lake. It was wonderful to see her and her family, but I regret I was almost wholly distracted by my thoughts of Sunday.

Mighty M was tasked with gathering my arriving family at the airport, which turned out to be much more complicated than anticipated. Bad directions, a turned off cell phone, and an early arrival twisted our smooth plans into knots. And likewise, me into knots. My anxiety began to increase, and I knew I needed to focus, but was having a hard time finding space in which to do so.

And as the afternoon progressed – or rather sped by – I grew more and more worried about the race and how to find solace on the edges of these arrivals, problems with the hotel, and the long drives to and from the race site. Time seemed to rapidly slip away and before I realized it, it was 8:30 that night. I was fed. My family was safe and ready for the race. And my plans with those coming in for lunch were realized.

But I was a wreck. I had cried a number of times during the day out of frustration. I was twisted and emotional and panicked. I tried to put on a game face, but Mighty M and I knew…I was not in a good place.

Was this normal? Was this to be expected? I thought back to impressions I had from discussions with other racers and worried that I was not in the right place, mentally, for this. And that, of course, added to my worry. I hadn’t planned right – left enough time for driving the course the whole way (we only had time for about a ½ of the loop), time to spend quietly and alone, time to get the bags triple checked.

I simply hadn’t left enough time to find peace, and I suspected I would need it.

Lessons learned. Hard lessons learned.

The clock soon showed after 9:30 and I knew that an attempt at sleep was important. I could accept a fitful night of sleep, as Friday’s was enjoyable and restful, but I needed to lie down and try to find an element of peace in the dark of the hotel room. And as Mighty M snored next to me and the light of a muted tv flickered around, I slowly started to find my center. I went through my tasks for the next day. Imagined, in my mind’s eye, what it would feel like to do the swim well. Imagined my strong legs powering up hills. Imagined my persistence pushing me forward on the run. And the finish line. I imagined what that would feel like, too.

And as the mental movie of the next day worked its magic, I slowly relaxed and fell asleep. All the bags were filled and placed. My bike was ready and waiting. My training was done. All that was left was the execution. The doing.

* * * *

It was pitch dark in the room, as I bumped around picking up the carefully selected items placed out the night before. It was 4:30 AM and I was wide awake. Race day. My race day. My Ironman day.

My first order of business was a shower. Not typical to my routine (I usually do this the night before), but there was no time on Saturday. It was, however, a welcomed start to a long day. Afterwards I started the eating routine. The plan included two peanut butter sandwiches, made with my favorite raisin cinnamon bread brought from home. One Accelerade now, one before the swim. I dressed in my pre-race clothes, woke Mighty M and we headed toward the race site.

When we made it to the site, I wasn’t sure where the bag drop off was. But, as I was lingering by the open door of the running car wondering which way to try first, Jay (TriDummy) emerged by my side with not only the answer, but warm encouragement and a smile. “It’s right up that street…you can’t miss it.” I was so glad to have seen him and was grateful for now knowing in which direction to head off.

I kissed Mighty M goodbye and was sad to see him slowly creep away in the car, heading back to the hotel to collect my family. But the buzz of activity of other racers heading to transition from the special needs drop off quickly replaced that void and snapped me back to the moment.

I hurried up to the drop off and then back to transition. Huge floodlights cast surreal beams through the crowd, a square of bright daylight in the enveloping darkness. My stomach was already twisting around in anticipation. The first sandwich had barely gone down and I was struggling with my second. While the Accelerade was helping, it was like eating sawdust. I carried the half eaten sandwich with me – gripped it, actually – throughout transition. It did little good in my fist and never made it to my gullet. This was, in retrospect, the beginning of my stomach issues for the day.

I walked to my bike, which was in a prime spot next to the pro’s all the way at the end of the transition area. She was there, quietly waiting for her turn. I placed the nutrition I needed for the bike segment in her bento – power bars, double baggies of clif bloks, my salt tabs. I check her gearing for the tenth time, making sure the initial ramp down the Helix would be safe. I touched the seat and remembered those training miles over the winter and squeezed the newly wrapped aerobars, which helped me learn to trust my riding skills in the most recent months. What a relationship she and I had developed.

Heading back along the long middle lane of the transition area, I was a little scared, but mainly excited. Had you seen my face, you would have seen the joy coming from my eyes. I felt like I belonged. Belonged with this exceptional group of athletes. Belonged with this amazing group of people who believed, as I had learned, that living is about grabbing hold as hard as you can and never letting go. I was a part of this and, oddly, it was more powerful than any other moment in my life.

I felt like I had finally arrived.

* * * *

Body marking was a quick and fun process, and the sky was turning mauve and purple in anticipation of dawn. I looked around for my family and Mighty M, but couldn’t find them among the sleepy looking spectators. Around 6:00 I decided to begin to head towards the water and suit up. I soon found myself in a corral of other racers, for the first time segregated from everyone else.

Me. Little ole’ me. Doing an Ironman today. I could barely wrap my mind around it.

Finding an open spot along the water side of the corral, I plunked down my bag and began the process of getting the wetsuit on. I asked a stranger next to me to help with the zipper. This, as I came to find out, was almost my undoing…literally. But at the time, I felt confident, suited up and ready to rock and roll. After dropping my bag off with the volunteers, it was all about me, my caffeine GU and my Accelerade. I tried to find my family in the crowd again, but later learned they were still looking for parking at that point. Following the announcer’s encouragement, it was time to walk to the water. I was calm and ready.

And apparently coming undone.

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Tyler (Jetpack) hugging a friend and taking a last minute picture. I was excited to see him and wish him the best. We paused our conversation long enough for him to take a picture and me to reach back and check my zipper. Good thing I had, because it was zipped completely wrong. But for the kindness of strangers... . Thankfully, Tyler was able to unzip it and get it back on track – otherwise, I would have had the shortest Ironman race in history. Soon we were almost to the water and TriBoomer joined us in the pre-race well wishing. It wasn't until later that I remembered that he was carrying my Mother's name with him, and would for the remainder of his Ironman day. I wish that I had thanked him there for his willingness to remember her in that way.

In no time at all, we were in the water and finding our own places in the starting area. I placed myself in the middle, but rather far back. Until now, I had had excellent luck with my swim and wanted to stay as unencumbered by other swimmers as I could. I spent some time just bobbing around in my wetsuit, watching the amazing number of other racers pour into the water and the excited spectators lining the shore and throughout the helix.

It’s hard to find the words to describe what it was like to be out in the water, watching the shore full of fans and knowing that in mere moments you would be embarking on an amazing journey. I felt it all at once -- every emotion that brought me to this place. Every nugget of hope and every wave of confidence. I was doing it. I had followed through. I had finished what I had started, by simply starting. Bobbing like a cork there, with the sun peaking over the horizon and the day spread out at my feet, I realized that I was a success.

And for the first moment as an adult, I believed it.

The sunrise, courtesy of IronWil

I had arrived. And I finally belonged.

Avoiding the Avoidance

For years, I was the master of avoidance. I was, for so long, mired in depression and isolation and built a wall around my psyche. A wall to protect me from the inevitable fear that I would feel when approached with conflict, decisions or dissonance. I avoided everything. Social engagements, classes, bills, phone messages, people. It was the only way I knew how to protect myself from managing emotional and personal situations that would threaten my little sliver of solace I had built in my various apartments, where I would stow away from life and hide, silent, amongst the needlepoint projects, television and a phone I would rarely answer.

Avoidance became my spoon to China. Intellectually, I always knew that I would never make it there with this maladjusted approach – the problems would never be solved, the issues never resolved. But I really knew no other way. This was all I carried around in my emotional tool box, so the approach became battered and scuffed with many uses, as well as trusty and reliable.

It’s also a hard habit to reject. I’ve become worlds better at identifying when I begin to feel overwhelmed and fearful. I’ve learned to “identify” that feeling and cognitively determine my response. It's almost amusing to watch the process, here the little conversations I have. "Well, I'm feeling a bit ___ about this. But instead of doing ____, I think I'm going to bite the bullet and ... ." The amusing part is I can be caught doing it out loud. Often on runs and bike rides. And it works -- it has served me so much better than my blunt little spoon, but sometimes I forget and fall into old habits. Which I have now done.

We traveled this weekend, Mighty M and me. Almost 13 hours in the car in under two days will certainly give you time to think and reflect. And in between the NPR programs we could find through Baltimore and DC, and the two football games we listened to on AM radio on the way home, there was ample time for reflection on my part.

It seems, in my estimation, that I’m being avoidant. Of my race report. I know…it sounds silly, and perhaps it is. But this blog is the place where my silly resides. And for all of the time that has passed – and even taking into account those things that pull my attention elsewhere – I should have easily written about Wisconsin.

But I haven’t.

And it practically gives me hives each time I think about it.

I’ve been avoidant. Again. I have managed to remember vividly the worst parts of that day, while allowing the wonderful moments to linger, forgotten, in the larger shadows. And in doing so, I've managed to create this hurdle where there was none before. Here I am digging to China with a spoon again – knowing that writing about the race and turning the details over in the sunlight is the answer and, instead, distracting myself. The mind is a complicated thing. A fascinating thing. A frustrating thing.

One thing that I do know, is that I am no longer that same person who wants to tuck away from the world because of my fear of what will happen if I ventured forth – felt the emotions, faced the conflict, worked through the challenge. So enough with the indulgence… it’s time to write the race report. Remember in detail all the great and awful parts of that day, so I am free to be excited about next year.


Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Big Decisions, Bold Decisions




I've been making some crazy CRAZY decisions over here in AbleLand. And I can't even BEGIN to tell you how excited I am about them.

The birthday present to myself. She's beautiful. And feels amazing. And it waiting for pedals at my new favorite shop, and then she's mine, all mine. And I love her.

And then there's the dash of crazy that I've added to my life. I can't reveal yet who...but I think I may have myself a coach. AN HONEST TO GOODNESS COACH. And I can barely contain myself, because this is my pre-season gauntlet, thrown down as a challenge. I want to get strong. I want to get fast. And I know exactly who can help me make that happen...

I'll tell you more about who when I get confirmation.

And trust'll want to pee your pants, too!

People...this next season will rock. I can feel it in my bones. I KNOW we're in for some great things in 2008. Great things. Fast things. Fun things. And, as usual, I'll share every step of the way with y'all.


Friday, October 12, 2007

Peeking under the Kona Skirt

I blissfully led my life for over 30 years without knowing my own ignorance about triathlon. And now that I know, and with Kona on the horizon, I'm so excited I could just about pee my pants. Pee my pants! It's like watching a reality tv show when you actually know someone on the show!

And you do, too. I know it. You know it. No sense in denying. Admitting we have a problem is the first step, ya know. you want to peek up the Kona skirt? Step over to the Elf's blog -- Elizabeth Fedofsky. I've mentioned before how I love her writing and she is a bona fide PRO now! She took the plunge, so send money. She will wear your schwag for peanuts* (but probably will work harder for peanut butter). She's already been making the rounds and now has locked in with Hak over at The Outdoor Journey for Fedofsky Fridays. Check it out!

And she's there. On the ground. Hanging with uber cool triathletes, gawking at the untouchables, and sipping Kona's finest brews (coffee, of course!) ... all in preparation for the big show this weekend.

And she's posting like a fiend. So, swing over and peek up the skirt of Kona. Be sure to check out stuff from earlier this week. And then, come race day, cheer the Elf and her hubby, Chris, on to the race of their lives!

And, lastly...but certainly not leastly...the Elf is pimping herself out as a coach. I kid you not. So if you're looking for a coach that has LOADS of experience, tons of training and racing under her own belt, and (gasp) a sense of humor...well, you know what I'm getting at...


(Picture source)
* But don't offer just peanuts! Offer her billions of dollars and tv appearances. She's worth it!

Friday, October 05, 2007

Going Local, Going Loco

It's Race Schedule time!! Wahoo!!

I have a couple of things that have guided my highly preliminary race schedule this year...

First, I want to compete locally. While traveling to a race is fun and all, it's also really expensive. And my personal stash is usually pretty small. So, I'm trying to focus on races that I can get to the morning of the race or maybe stay over with a friend or family member instead of a hotel. And there will be NO driving cross country.

Second, I really want to participate in races that include an Athena category. Two things have become clear to me. (1) I'm always going to be over 150. Get used to it world. This is me and my genes and we're here to stay. (2) I like bling. It makes me feel even more accomplished. Just finishing does just fine, and (not 'but') finishing with a place in my division is finer.

Also (or third, or iii, or whatever), I really want to improve on my half iron distance performance from last year. I don't really care much about trying to reach a certain time, since each course is different. But I do want to feel more comfortable racing that distance and work on getting stronger on the bike and better at maintaining pace on the run after the first few miles. And we all get better, you must practice.

And one more thing. I noticed that one of our more prolific race direction groups around here (Piranha Sports) has a competition each year for points. And since they include an Athena division, I think it would be fun to give a shot at winning some fun prizes or swag in their contest. Last year -- not a single Athena raced enough of their races (4) to win. I'd like to change that. Plus, they run races of all different distances and put on a good race. Yeah!

Okay. Enough babbling. Here's the breakdown...

JAN - Begin 18 week training program for 1/2 iron distances.

FEB - Build

MAR - Build

APR - Begin speed work
Brandywine Valley Duathlon (4/5): 5k run, 30k bike, 5k run **

MAY - NJ Devilman (5/4): half iron **

JUNE - Black Bear (6/1): half iron
Escape from Ft. Delaware (6/28): olympic **

JULY - Philly Women's Triathlon (7/6): sprint
NJ State Triathlon (7/27): olympic

AUG - Northeast Maryland Triathlon (8/17): olympic (maybe...could be too close to next half )
(or) Lums Pond Triathlon (8/17): sprint **

- Diamondman Triathlon (9/7): half iron **
Cape Henlopen Triathlon (9/28): sprint **

NOV - Philly Marathon

DEC - Rest, for goodness sakes

** Counts towards the Greater Atlantic Multisport Series.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Declaration of Intent, 2008


I am no longer afraid of distance.

I am no longer afraid of hard work.

I am no longer concerned with self sabotage.

I am no longer hiding my weight and size.

I am no longer worried that my body can't or shouldn't.


I want to find joy or challenge in every day, preferably both.

I want to tap my greatest physical and emotional potential.

I want to always be proud of my personal endeavors.

I want to embrace and honor my abilities.

I want to illustrate my status as an athlete in a world of smaller athletes.


Compete in the '08 triathlon season,
as well as participate.

Challenge myself with new races at old distances.

Set specific performance goals throughout the year
and work towards them daily.

Race as an Athena and win as an Athena.

Encourage my friends, family and community to join me.

Allow myself dimension through the pursuit of other, non-athletic, goals.

Share the journey through open and honest writing.

T'anks, peeps!

Anybody ever tell you that you guys give great advice??

Well you do!

Thanks for all of the great advice on the new bike purchase -- all of it was excellent. Here's where I am now...

...Since everyone was in support of giving 650s a chance, I did some actual (gasp) research on what the difference is. I think I was just ill informed before -- I had the impression that the wives tale was that they were faster but the reality they were slower. What I learned was that the difference in speed/acceleration and handling are pretty negligible. I found some great resources to read and now am ambivalent about it...if the right bike has 650s, that's totally fine. Seems like the differences are very small.

...Don't worry -- while the temptation is there, I'm totally NOT going to buy a bike online! But, I did want to do some research and have an idea of brands that would be in my price range and size since that dictates where I go to shop. (For example, sadly my favorite bike shop only sells Jamis and my most hated shop is the largest Trek dealer in the area. Go figure!)

...I found what seems to be the perfect place for me to start, and likely end. High Road Cycles. They have two local shops and carry a ton of triathlon brands, including Trek and Specialized. They also have a number of ones for me to try and even will do my fitting evaluation for free, before putting me on a demo. I'm there: 11:30 on Sunday morning. With bells. :)

(High Road also has a multisport club that is encouragingly close to my home! I'm going to ask them about what levels its members are, but it could be a chance for me to train with other wackadoodle triathletes, instead of doing everything solo. Might be nice!)

...The Fit. I am absolutely doing a full fit once I get the new little nugget in my hot little hands. No doubt. I want every ounce of power I can squeeze out of her and lots of comfort. I have big plans for next year (oh...I didn't tell you those yet...???...patience IS a virtue...)!

...Upgrading. I love the idea of being more conservative for the main purchase and then upgrading the items I need/want (is there a difference?) and adding tools I can use. The sales guy I talked to said they have a ton of 2007 models still on the floor, including ones in my size. I may be able to underspend for the full setup and then upgrade components in drive train, like Monica suggested.

...The unexplored. Cervelo keeps coming up, again and again, but I just don't know very much about their bikes. Maybe a little research will do the trick...

Anyway, thanks again for all of your help!!!

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Going Bureaucrat on Ya

I grew up in a house with pretty well -- um -- voiced political opinions. I think Dad started out in his marriage on the other side of the political fence, but Mom taught him the error of his ways. Personally, I've spent years upon years working in policy in DC and consider myself darn well informed. And occasionally articulate. My Lil'Sis? She's our Congress Connection. I won't tell you exactly where she works, but let's just say it has an awful lot to do with how our nation's money is being spent.

So, when in doubt, I say


That's right. Go bureau-craptastic on the problem. Need a fix? Something falling apart? Line Item A Solution. Add-on. Attach. MARK IT UP, BABY!

And that's the way I've decided to deal with my triathlon problems. Throw. Cash. Around. *

Without going into the painful details as to my autopsy of my final tri of the season (and YES I really, really am working on a race report...REALLY!), there was something that I believe to be true.

As much as I love my Banana, I need an upgrade. Big time. I got Banana way back in something like 2000 to do the AIDSRide. She's a great lil' road bike and has taken me lovely places. Usually slowly, but I'm okay with that. So far, I've only really cared about getting to the end, not how long it takes me to get there.

Um...notice the words "so far"? Huh? Yup, me too.

I've decided that a 7 year old bike with the original touring components really isn't going to be good enough any more. I wants me some speed.

Did you hear that?


But I need your help. As Britney would say, I need help from all y'all. (Oh, and btw, she does. Please. Send help.) I need some advice on which bikes to look at. Here are the gory details that matter...

I'm short. As in 5'4" short.

I'm heavy. As in 164 lbs heavy.

I'm, um,
limited in financial resources. As in I'm capped at $1800 for this purchase. I KNOW! Not much, but I'm hoping to take advantage of models being phased out for the new 08 bikes or even getting an 06 model.

I live right near a great bike shop that could easily build up a frame if that's the way to go (e.g., buying frame/components/bars/etc. separately). And, I have all winter to find good deals on shtuff.

I live kinda close to a triathlon shop (Cadence in Philly), but I'm nowhere near the price range of bikes they sell there and I don't have an extra few hundred to go in for a consultation. Seriously...where are all the tri shops for broke folk?

And, like most women, I have my preferences....

I love my current tri saddle, from Terry.

I like S-bend aero's better than L-bend, although I haven't tried either with bar-end shifters. That could make a difference.

I'd like a kinda good set of wheels. Not
crazy good, just something that is reliable and doesn't stick to the road like molasses. (Stop with the flat tire jokes, okay? Really. That's rude... .)

I have a thing against 650s. I don't know why, but I'd love to be able to stay away from them if I can.

I think components make the difference in the experience of riding hills (which I simply can't get away from out here). I never knew I had basement bargain components on Banana and now realize the mistake. (You mean gears aren't supposed to sound like a garbage disposal going up climbs? No?) Won't make that mistake again. Ultegra is fine, 105 is fine, Dura Ace is drool worthy.

There you have it. It's time to shop.

I've found one bike that I keep going back to -- again and again. It's the Trek Equinox 7 WSD (women specific design). And it's perdy.'s beautiful. And it has a carbon fork. And Bontrager Select Aero wheels. It has Dura-Ace shifters, 105 derailleurs, and a Bontrager crank. And, and, and...

And I think I would look MIGHTY FINE on top of this little baby.

But are there more out there?

More that might be good for me?

* Okay, to be fair...I actually don't believe that this is a real solution to real problems and I actually think there's some pretty lousy money management going on in DC and I have a thing about waste. Something to do with "waste not want not." But it works for triathlon!

Monday, October 01, 2007

Where is Able?

Indeed...a very good question! She has been a number of places in the last week. Like these places...

Hatching plans. Hatching plans. (Boohawhawhaw...rubbing hands together)

Sick as a Dog who has a really, really bad cold. In bed. For evah! With like the longest festering cold known to modern science. Call the CDC, we've got a mutant on our hands.

Spending time with the family. We had a very important family weekend, full of heart heavy topics such as the 10th anniversary of my mother's passing, and somewhat lighter topics like celebrating my 34th birthday (decidedly early I must add, but my sister and Dad can be very persuasive when holding presents labled 'Ann Taylor' and 'Ironman'), and on major transitions, like my Dad moving our family home (gasp!) to Williamsburg (

Hatching plans. And more plans.


And there are things she has decidedly not been doing, but will start doing really soon. Like immediately. For example...

Grocery shopping for food. Like for the house. To EAT. When we're hungry. Which is

Laundry. Ew. And maybe some cleaning in there for good measure.

Running. I know there's a rule that anything below the neck can stop you from running, but anything above shouldn't. But when the above the neck gets crafty enough to give you a fever and sleep in cycles of 10 - 12 hours nonstop, that rule kinda doesn't apply. I'm down to just a runny nose and persistent cough and my running bag is right next to my office chair.

Posting. (Well, duh. You already knew that.)

Writing. About THE RACE. Although I haven't forgotten (how could I). And I have actually come up with most of the writing already. But it's in my head. And you're not Sylar. And, no, you can't eat my brains or do whatever he does. But I do promise a race report this week. And it will be good.

Biking or Swimming. Actually, Banana is still in the basement, with her wheel off and with a half chewed power bar in her bento. NO REALLY. Ew. I would feel guilty when walking past her. On the way to the laundry room. Of course, that would be if I were doing laundry. Ew squared.

So that's my update. More to come. Seriously. But it's Monday, and I'm barely three sips into my D&D coconut nectar of the gods. Today? My Race Plan and MAYBE my declaration of intent.

[Oh no, she di-ent! Oh yes she did!]

Patience is a virtue. (Not one that I really have, but that's what I hear on the block.)(Yo.)